Lance Gilman owns the industrial center that's set to house Tesla's massive Gigafactory. Gilman is also the owner of the famous Mustang Ranch brothel, legally operated in Storey County just east of Reno.
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USA Today Network
Ray Hagar, Reno Gazette-Journal
7:35 a.m. EDT September 5, 2014
business climate Great Recession Las Vegas gaming revenue northern Nevada corporate income tax Smart guy tech industry Reno Atlanta Twitter California
USA TODAY reporter Hadley Malcolm interviews former Reno Gazette Journal Editor Beryl Love about why Nevada beat out the competition of four other states.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
00:02 Apple is going to build a giant battery factory in
00:05 Nevada Nevada 185 state competition for task of business. And governor
00:10 Brian -- expected to announce the deal tonight. I'm having not
00:14 come and this is USA now for September 4 2014. I'm
00:18 joined today by -- loud he's the executive editor of USA
00:21 today's national news desk. But before that he was the editor
00:25 of the Reno gazette journal. He lived in Nevada for almost
00:29 seven years we're talking to him about what the Catholic deal
00:32 means. So well tell me why do you think Nevada got
00:36 the steal the first place they won out over four other
00:38 states. I think there's a lot of reasons first of all
00:41 they really went after it the state. Was trying to reinvent
00:44 itself from an economic development standpoint. Long story short you know
00:48 they're going through the Great Recession -- seen. Month over month
00:52 losses in gaming revenue. And just a big loss of jobs
00:56 so they really went after tests left. But also they've got
00:59 they're almost like the perfect place to be their very close
01:02 to test those manufacturing facility in California. They're on the I
01:05 eighty corridor. There is no corporate income tax of the business
01:09 climate is really great. And by the way you can mine
01:13 lithium in the matter which is key to these batteries. Why
01:17 isn't about you were telling a little earlier white about it
01:19 so focused on the tech industry right now. Well they had
01:23 to reinvent themselves from it economic development standpoint they you know
01:26 years and years. The economy being driven by the gaming industry.
01:31 And with you know casinos being. You know popping up all
01:36 over the place. You know Las Vegas is always gonna probably
01:39 be a world class gaming destination. Not so much northern Nevada
01:42 so they lost a lot of you know revenue that was
01:45 driving the local economy and it lost a lot of jobs.
01:48 The real estate market you know that was another sad story
01:52 was kind of masking the economic symptoms for awhile because. They
01:56 were getting a lot of development from real estate you know
01:58 that hit bottom during the housing crisis and so they just
02:01 really needed to determine you know what is our future going
02:04 to be. What about what this battery factory will mean for
02:09 tasked with consumers what is what will they get -- as
02:12 well. At first when you hear it it's a battery factory
02:15 thing and one that's not too exciting you know batteries really.
02:18 But that's what's really driving the cost of electric cars right
02:22 now the batteries are very expensive when a battery goes out
02:25 there very expensive to replace. This facility is going to drive
02:29 down the price of batteries by an estimate of maybe 30%
02:32 up. Now I I I meant and you lived in about
02:36 almost seven years of -- working at the paper there and
02:39 what do you think that community. Thinks about this deal how
02:43 are people re acting locally. You know locally there's a lot
02:47 of excitement. There's a Twitter hash tags -- we matter. Which
02:51 is popped up with a lot of tweets around this deal.
02:55 You know when -- community decides it's gonna rally together and
02:59 and go after tech businesses and makes it happen it's pretty
03:02 exciting. So I hear that there's a pretty interesting back story
03:05 behind where the link and came from the Tesla is using
03:09 -- -- -- up that's very true so there's a guy
03:12 you know classic Nevada story guy roles -- -- Nevada. And
03:16 sees opportunity and it's a guy named Lance -- one of
03:19 the first investments he made was -- famous mustang ranch so
03:24 we became a brothel governor. But he also was a Smart
03:27 guy as far as kind of seeing where the real estate
03:29 was headed and he bought up land and he bought the
03:32 land that. Tesla is probably going to move into with the
03:35 development center east of Reno. Again he did this in the
03:38 middle of the recession and people -- scratching their heads saying
03:41 you know what it's crazy Atlanta team now. Fine on this
03:43 land you know who's gonna move there and now he's looking
03:47 like a really Smart guy. His -- was gonna move this
03:50 test is gonna move there again thanks so much for --
03:52 really appreciate it look for more on this story at USA
03:55 -- dot com.
There are two ways to look at Lance Gilman of Storey County, Nev., the businessman whose industrial center is set to house Tesla's massive Gigafactory.
To some, he is a major player when it comes to economic development in Nevada, a state that is still clawing its way out of a recession. To others, Gilman is also seen as a flesh peddler — he's owner of the famous Mustang Ranch brothel, legally operated in Storey County just east of Reno.
Gilman is the principal and director of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, billed as the largest industrial park in the world. As Storey County Manager Pat Whitten put it, Gilman is "the lead economic engine for Northern Nevada."
Besides Tesla, he's lured major companies to his park, which has become a cash cow of tiny Storey County. The park is located just outside the county limits of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area and includes companies such as Kal-Kan, Wal-Mart, Dell Computers and Toys R Us. The industrial park is next to coast-to-coast interstate highway and rail systems, so it sells itself. Yet Gilman closes the deals.
He is also an integral part of the negotiations to bring Tesla Motors' $5 billion Gigifactory project to the industrial park he represents.
Meanwhile, Gilman got into the brothel business about a decade ago with his Wild Horse Canyon Ranch brothel. He later bought the Mustang Ranch, which was previously owned by the notorious Joe Conforte — who escaped to Brazil to avoid federal prosecution for tax evasion.
When the Mustang re-opened under Gilman's ownership in 2007, Conforte appeared via live video feed at a grand opening celebration to give a few words and pass the mantle off to Gilman.
When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Nevada Legislature in 2011 it was time to ban legal prostitution in Nevada, he did not mention Gilman by name, but it was apparent who he was speaking about.
After that speech, Gilman said he was the target of the majority leader's concerns over businesses not coming to Nevada because of brothels, but added those concerns were overstated.
"I just read the speech and I am mystified at that quote," Gilman said back in 2011. "It made it appear he is on the attack on Storey County and TRI."
Gilman carries clout for another reason: he's one of three Storey County commissioners, although some residents in the county seat of Virginia City will tell you Gilman doesn't really live in the county.
Last summer, a Storey County jury awarded a $1.3 million judgment to investor Tom Gonzales, who contended Gilman and the Storey County government conspired to bamboozle him out of his share as as secret partner in the Mustang brothel. After winning the the jury's verdict, Gonzales called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Gilman and the Storey County government.
Storey County District Attorney Bill Maddox called that allegation "b.s.," but also acknowledged Gilman's influence.
"In retrospect, we might have been manipulated," he said in an interview earlier this year. "You could certainly conclude that from all that has happened, that the county might have been manipulated. If you want to quote me on that, go ahead. It'll probably get me in trouble with Gilman, but so be it."